If you want a break from plain water, it can be hard to find drinks low in sugar or artificial sweeteners to enjoy with your family at mealtimes.
Soda can be an occasional treat, but we know that consuming this high sugary beverage regularly can harm our health. What are the other options?
Sugar-free sodas might seem like the logical choice, but this may not be the best substitution. The sugar replacements can be questionable. Although acesulfame, aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, and neotame are FDA-approved artificial sweeteners, it’s believed that 0-calorie sugar-free soft drinks can still be a contributor to obesity. Frequent consumption tricks the brain into disassociating sweetness with calories, and people may compensate for the zero calories and sugars later on by snacking on often unhealthy foods.
When choosing the best alternatives to soda, we considered low-calorie options with little to no added sugar and packed with nutritional benefits!
Healthy Alternatives To Soda
Sparkling water is made by dissolving carbon dioxide gas into water under pressure, which causes it to become fizzy. Sparkling water is one of the healthiest alternatives to soft drinks because it’s just as hydrating as a regular cup of water. Make sure to read the ingredients first, as many brands have added sugars and flavors. You really can’t go wrong with plain, zero-calorie, sparkling water.
Plain sparkling water is one of the healthiest soft drinks. If you need more flavor, add a splash of fruit juice or infuse it with flavors such as lemon, lime, mint, or add frozen berries to make it one of the best tasting no sugar added drinks.
Mineral water, seltzer water are among the least processed fizzy waters, but if you’re buying a flavored version, check the ingredients for added ingredients and hidden calories.
Lemonade is one way to add more vitamins and minerals to your meal. Although lemonade can be bought in most stores, nothing beats a homemade fresh glass of lemon juice. Homemade foods and drinks are often the healthiest options as they don’t need preservatives, and you can control what goes into them. Standard lemonade recipes suggest a ratio of one-quarter lemon juice to three-quarters water, as well as sugar and a pinch of salt.
Making your lemonade allows you to control the amount of sugar added. Start by adding half the amount of sugar called for in any recipe. Give it a try. If you have given up soda recently, you may find that your taste buds have changed and are more sensitive to sugar. Meaning, you can get away with using less sugar without compromising flavor.
Lemons are a good source of vitamin C and potassium. A beverage containing lemons is a good option for family dinner as it helps with digestion and indigestion. Although you might think that something as acidic as lemons would cause heartburn, ascorbic acid found in lemons may be protective against key players in acid reflux.
Sugar alcohols like erythritol and mannitol contain less sugar and calories than table sugar and can be found in store-bought lemonade. They’re called sugar alcohol because they have a similar chemical structure to sugar and alcohol, but are not alcoholic. Some experience GI (gastrointestinal) upset when consuming sugar alcohols.
Lemonade can also be an alternative to soft drinks by using sparkling water instead of plain water to create fizzy lemonade.
Fruity iced tea
Fruity iced tea can be a refreshing addition to your meals. It can be an excellent replacement for sugary fruit juices, soft drinks, and pre-made iced tea drinks, which frequently have a lot of added sugar.
Iced tea can be made using any tea as a base, but if you’re looking for a drink for family dinner, many kids will like fruity teas like rooibos and hibiscus. These herbal teas also come with some significant health benefits. Rooibos tea is a good source of antioxidants, while hibiscus has iron and vitamin C.
Iced tea can be made by brewing a big batch of tea as usual, adding your fruit of choice, cooling it down in the fridge overnight, and then adding ice when serving. Remember to remove the tea bags after it’s brewed as some teas start to taste off if the tea bag is left in. Some delicious iced tea combos are; strawberry and basil, blackberry and mint, and peach iced tea.
Adding mint leaves will also help enhance this family dinner drink as it soothes the stomach, which can ease indigestion, and the smell can activate glands that secrete digestive enzymes.
Kombucha is a drink made from green or black tea, yeast, bacteria, and sugar. The research into the health benefits of kombucha is still limited. Still, it is a source of probiotics that can help with constipation, bloating, and gastrointestinal issues by helping facilitate good gut bacteria. Bacteria and yeast are also a source of B vitamins.
This is also a great way to reap the benefits of black or green tea in a cool refreshing drink. Both black tea and green tea are good sources of antioxidants. Black tea kombucha also contains polyphenols that can have antibacterial and antiviral effects.. Green tea kombucha can also help maintain a healthy metabolism, and green tea is a better source of antioxidants than black tea.
Make sure to pick up a low-sugar brand if you are not able to make this at home.
A glass of milk is a simple but healthy drink for a family dinner.
Milk can balance out the nutritional breakdown in a meal if low in protein or calcium. It’s also a good source of vitamin B12 and vitamin D. For kids with a small appetite; milk can be a way to get more calories into their meal if you suspect they won’t finish it.
Milk is also a good option to help cool down after a spicy meal Chili burns because it contains capsaicin which binds with a receptor in the tongue. As a fat-soluble compound, the milk fat can help to ease this burning sensation.
Upon inspecting the nutrition facts panel, you’ll note that milk does contain sugar. Lactose is acceptable as it is a natural sugar found in milk. Regular milk rarely has any added sugar, which makes it a healthier option at dinner than soda.
The Bottom Line
These healthy alternatives to soft drinks can liven up dinner time, without compromising health. Although water is always the best source of hydration, these low-sugar drinks are a better choice than soda.